Face to Face With the Kinks’ Pop Satire
THE ART OF satire and the ability to see through convention seem to have passed from the hands of essayists to pop songwriters like the leader of the Kinks, Raymond Douglas Davies, who wrote the songs for their new record album, Face to Face (Reprise).
Davies takes his cues from the frustrations, hypocrisy and commercialism around him to come up with songs that expose everything from Waikiki hula girls straight from New York to recording studio musicians who are “not paid to think, just to play.”
The Kinks’ musical arrangements work hand in hand with the lyrics to produce an exciting, sharply humorous effect.
ART & SOUL by Arthur Prysock (Verve) — Dim the lights, lean back, relax — preferably with your special guy or gal — and just enjoy listening to Prysock. His rich, soul-filled voice does wonders with standards like ‘Easy To Love’, ‘If You Were The Only Girl In The World’ and newer things like ‘You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me’. With a big orchestra and full string section behind him, Prysock makes each song his very own.
RENAISSANCE by The Association (Valiant) — Although this Los Angeles-based group has only been in the pop spotlight since their first single hit, ‘Along Came Mary’, last spring, they’ve been working hard making music together for about two years. Their professionalism shows on this album. All cuts are written by members of the group and have that smooth, well-blended Association character. Take note particularly of the inventiveness in ‘Pandora’s Golden Heebie Jeebies’ (also released as a single) and ‘You May Think’. Although the beat is there, you can hear the lyrics clearly. Too many other groups drown the words under the big beat.
THE SPIRIT OF ’67 by Paul Revere and the Raiders (Columbia) — This album includes two of the group’s recent hits, ‘Hungry’ and ‘The Great Airplane Strike’. The boys go through a variety of musical changes on the different cuts, incorporating mid-Eastern sounds, Beach Boy harmonies, classical music and rhythm and blues into their rock style. One number, ‘Undecided Man’, sounds as if it borrowed a little too much from the Beatles’ ‘Eleanor Rigby’ in its baroque orchestration.
IF I WERE A CARPENTER by Bobby Darin (Atlantic) — Bobby’s got a brand new bag. He introduced this new low-key style on his single recording of Tim Hardin’s ‘If I Were A Carpenter’ and it’s a big change from the whammo styling of his ‘Mack The Knife’ days. The approach is similar to a folk singer’s in his concentration on getting the song’s meaning across and in its minimum of fancy orchestration and showy guitar work. With excellent material by writers like Hardin and John Sebastian (of the Lovin’ Spoonful), Bobby demonstrates his versatility very well.
HUMS OF THE LOVIN’ SPOONFUL by The Lovin’ Spoonful (Kama Sutra) — Practically without peers in American pop music, the Spoonful once again demonstrate their tremendous talent. All of the cuts are by John Sebastian (with an assist on a couple by other members of the group). The songs, as usual, are delightfully original. Sebastian gets to the heart of his subject whether it’s those musical cats down in Nashville, summer in the city, or lovers and best friends. He makes his point with a great deal of wit and perception. You can expect a great performance by the Spoonful every time.
© Loraine Alterman, Detroit Free Press, 1 January 1967